When kids learn letter sounds, and phonics sounds in general, they benefit from interleaving–a practice in which you mix up material. For example, if t is a new sound, and the student already knows d, m, s, a, then make an activity with all 5 of these letters. Mix them up so the student doesn’t know which one will come next.
A focus on one letter is not effective in Kindergarten.
Once kids are in Kindergarten, they should not, for example, have a “letter i day” in which all the activities focus on letter i: a letter i tracing activity, a letter i word game, a letter i show and tell…etc. A “letter i day” does not use interleaving. The student simply repeats the sound again and again. Real, lasting learning must be effortful. The student should not be able to guess what sound will come next.
A letter sound introduction should be explicit.
Kids benefit from explicit phonics sound introductions. For example, if you are doing a “letter i introduction,” you can say something like this:
“Listen as I read this sentence. Then, I want you to guess what the new sound is:”
Tim and his sis got a big dog.
Read the sentence again. Say the letter i sound slowly. Let your student try to guess the new sound. Then, tell him the sound explicitly.
“i says iiiiii as an igloo. We can say iiiii for a long time, so I want you to hold this sound.”
Print the letter sound activity pdf to teach beginners.
Last week, I offered a letter sound activity for beginners with s, a, m, t. This week, I am offering another letter sound pdf with two additional letters: i and f. Here is the link:
How do I use this letter sound activity?
- First print the pdf that only includes s, a, m, t. Your student should learn new sounds gradually. Teach about 2-4 new letter sounds at once.
- Make sure your student holds continuous sounds for 2-3 seconds. S, m, a, i and f are continuous sounds.
- Teach short vowels. Letter i is a short vowel and says iiii as in igloo. Some sample short i words include: him, nip, hit, rip, kit, wit.
- Teach your student to clip stop sounds. t is a stop sound. Ensure he doesn’t incorrectly add an “uh” to /t/. He should say “t-” not “tuh.”
- Teach him to say the sounds only. The sounds unlock words. Letter names do not unlock the written code. We don’t read dog as deeohjee. Letter sound knowledge is essential for reading.
- Finally, let your student color the activity for fun!
Reading Elephant offers printable systematic phonics stories that help kids learn to read.